Look! Design Inspiration at Hungry Mother Restaurant

Look! Design Inspiration at Hungry Mother Restaurant

Jeanine Brennan
Oct 17, 2008

How many neighborhood restaurants keep you coming back not only for the fantastic food and warm welcome, but also for their unique and creative design? We love both of these at Hungry Mother restaurant in Cambridge. For starters, we walked in and were smitten with the chandelier above the bar that resembles dozens of lead crystal glasses overturned as shades. Then there's a homemade wall of text next to the bar that definitely stirs curiosity. Check these out and more fun DIY design elements at Hungry Mother after the jump...

Boston AT readers may know Alon and Rachel Munzer, two of the owners, from their previous restaurant, Rachel's Kitchen in Bay Village. They opened Hungry Mother in Kendall Square this past March with partners John Kessen and chef Barry Maiden (of L'Espalier and Lumiere fame). What we love about Hungry Mother is the amazing transformation of the old Kendall Cafe/Swan location, and that their design doesn't take itself too seriously. You walk in and are greeted with a warmly painted wall of gilded frames holding things like light bulbs, family photos and quirky objects. Across the room next to the bar is that big wall with names of supporters who gave anywhere from $5 to $100 apiece to help open the restaurant.

The wall of names was created, not by painting them by hand, but by typing the names and sending a computer file to a local graphics company, Ardon Vinyl, which generated a formatted roll of typeset letters. The owners then adhered the roll like wallpaper by peeling off the adhesive background. Just like they do in museum displays. This would be a great idea for a nursery or kids room, a half-bathroom, or on a wall in your kitchen

The wonderfully original chandelier over the bar and sconces in the back room are from Italian company Fabbian. They're made with real lead crystal glasses and look amazing at night when lighting the room.

Another interesting thing we noticed, because we were sitting on them, was the unexpected design for the backs of the banquettes. They had their carpenter vary the cuts of the wood so each board was randomly shaped and angled. Its hard to capture how cool this looks in a photograph, but it was an example of one of the subtle details that made the dark stained banquettes look unique.

All of the tables in the restaurant were made from countertops the owners bought and cut to size. In the bar area they cleverly designed bar-height tables to hinge downward so that large parties could fit in the bar. When the table is lowered there's still a ledge wide enough to hold drinks. We love this idea if you have a small kitchen that doesn't fit a table easily. The legs of the table are plumbing pipes that can simply be unscrewed to lower the table.

We've seen book pages used as wallpaper on AT before here, and here, and we loved the way Hungry Mother's bathrooms were papered with pages from two classic cookbooks: Mastering the Art of French Cooking and The Virginia Housewife.

Alon and Rachel had an old light box (like the ones you see in doctor's offices) they found on the street, which they inserted a photo montage of their restaurant's namesake. At night when you light it up, it adds a warm glow to the back room. By the way, Hungry Mother is the name of a state park near where Chef Barry Maiden grew up in Virginia. The lightbox was made by Adam Gesuero of Image Conscious Studios who also designed the restuarant's menu and webiste.

The owners worked with Charles Fletcher Design in Boston to guide them while rennovating. We think the design is inspirational, budget-friendly and as comfortable as everyone there makes you feel.

>>> Hungry Mother restaurant website

233 Cardinal Medieros Avenue
Kendall Square, Cambridge
(617) 499-0090

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